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Charleston's Black Ink Festival to amplify African American voices in literature for 7th year

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Sierra Leonean-American author Namina Forna will be the keynote speaker for the 2023 Black Ink Festival. Melanie D'Andrea/Provided

NORTH CHARLESTON — Charleston's African American book festival is back for its seventh year. 

The Black Ink Festival will take place Jan. 12-14 with the goal of amplifying Black voices in literature. This year's theme is "Black to the Future." 

New York Times-bestselling Sierra Leonean-American author Namina Forna will be this year's keynote speaker, with an address slated for 1 p.m. Jan. 14. Forna's fantasy novel "The Gilded Ones" deals with racism, xenophobia, misogyny, inequality, abuse and trauma while starring a teenage Black girl. 

"While the success of Marvel's 'The Black Panther' has been credited for the rise of speculative fiction for African Americans, we actually began seeing an increase in Sci-Fi and fantasy books for the young adult audience at a pace that captured our attention," said Djuanna Brockington, chair of the festival's planning committee.  

"'The Gilded Ones' caught my attention. A book about Black girls who bleed gold, are expected to serve at the behest of others, and oh yeah, are called 'demons?' Yeah, I was all in."

Festival workshops include how libraries and indie bookstores can advocate for underrepresented authors, the roots and limbs of Afrofuturism and South Carolina Black narratives.

More topics include the rise of graphic novels and audiobooks, and there will be live editor and agent pitches. 

Charleston-area writers Theresa Jenkins Hilliard, Jessica Mack and Herb Frazier will also be speaking. 

"Black Ink serves as a platform to support local Black writers, creating a space for them to share their work, discuss their craft and expose readers of all ages to the great variety of African American authors in the area," said Brockington. 

The events, a hybrid of virtual and in-person offerings, are free to attend and open to the public. The in-person events will take place on Jan. 14 at Trident Technical College in North Charleston. 

For those attending or looking for more information, there is a registration link and full agenda at the website, blackinkcharleston.org.

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Reach Kalyn Oyer at 843-371-4469. Follow her on Twitter @sound_wavves.

Kalyn Oyer is a Charleston native and the features editor for The Post and Courier. She's a music festival and concert photographer and avid showgoer who used to write about music for the Charleston City Paper as well as national publications.